MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The embattled Alabama Department of Corrections, under court order to enact sweeping corrective actions from the U.S. Department of Justice, is moving to address one of the key issues before it: chronic understaffing.
In April, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report documenting horrifying conditions inside Alabama’s mens’ prisons. DOJ found Alabama to have some of the deadliest prisons in the nation, with a homicide rate eight times the national average. Investigators discovered the overcrowded and understaffed prisons create an environment for systemic violence and unsanitary living conditions.
The DOJ’s report gave the state about a month, as of late April, to implement its corrective actions or face more legal action or even a possible federal takeover. That deadline is nearing.
Thursday, ADOC announced it’s creating a new position in its security officer ranks - the basic correctional officer. The position, ADOC says, will perform many of the same job duties as an employee classified as a correctional officer.
Both positions will include duties such as:
- Supervising inmates and dormitories
- Conducting searches
- Working dining halls
- Managing laundries and functions requiring inmate supervision
- Assisting with educational and vocational opportunities
- Providing rehabilitative services
But basic correctional officers will not include duties such as transferring inmates, manning patrol towers or driving perimeter trucks.
The department believes the new position will prime its employee pipeline by expanding the pool of eligible candidates. ADOC points to a 400 percent increase in candidates who attended an on-site recruiting event in early May as proof. The event led to more than 100 “potential applicants” for the position.
“The ADOC understands that the recruitment and staffing of qualified officers is crucial in advancing the Department’s mission of sustaining a secure correctional environment and effectively preparing inmates for a positive re-entry into society,” said ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn. “We know increased staffing is critical to reversing many long-established trends, so the addition of the BCO position is both an exciting and an important step forward.”
Dunn said hiring will start “within the next few weeks.” The position’s starting salary is $30,852.
An application process is available at https://adocjobs.us/ or by calling 1-855-WE-R-ADOC.